My Best Mate…

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A VERY HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Mr and Mrs Davis. Not much has made me prouder than delivering this a year ago today –

 

 

Croeso cynnes i chi gyd ar achlysur hapus iawn. Fel gwas priodas, mae’n ddyletswydd ac yn bleser i rannu dipyn o hanes Steve efo chi – a jôc neu ddau, ond yng Ngymraeg wryh gwrs!……. However…..

Well, well, well…. A very good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. As it’s my job to embarrass Steve as much as possible, I’ve decided the best idea would be to speak in Welsh so that he can’t understand a single word of it.

Unfortunately (or luckily, I’m not sure) for the Welsh speakers amongst us, as I don’t actually speak welsh and more to the point don’t trust the person that translated that opening line for me, I will have to continue in English.

Even more unfortunately for the English speakers amongst us, that opening line was my best one so if you didn’t understand it then you’ve really lost out.

Firstly, I’d like to say sincerely, before I start taking the mickey, that I couldn’t be happier, today…. My “best friend” just got married to the woman of his dreams, Magwen, who I have really enjoyed getting to know, is without doubt a truly fantastic person, but not only that but I’m sure that anyone who knows them both well would agree that the both of them together really are a perfect match.

– Just to track back on that for a moment…. “my best friend” – that’s a great concept in the first place, isn’t it? – Actually having a friend, not a family member, who is there for you unconditionally. That in itself is priceless. But on top of that I’m lucky enough and very proud that I, for some reason, get Stephen Davis as my best friend. A man who, I know we would all agree, not only has a huge personality and a great spirit but is one of the most enthusiastic, passionate, positive, fun, caring, understanding, generous, inventive, engaging, late, disorganized people that exists on this planet….

Let’s reflect on Stephen’s unique time management skills for a minute, shall we? I mean, I’m sure many of us are guilty of falling fowl of the same thing due to a heavy work load– basically, being too busy doing things we don’t want to do that we are then too busy to do the things we do want to do. So, sincerely, hats off to Steve and Mags – who are currently taking a break from work to do more of what they really want to do –

Lay in bed together, in kew gardens, watching homes under the hammer… for 10 months! I think we could all take a leaf out of their books. I mean, I for one have certainly benefitted from it…. Not lying in bed with Stephen and Mags in Kew Gardens for 10 months(!), but being able to spend more time with my great friend and seeing him healthier, lighter (mentally) and in a much more relaxed mood than when he was working far too hard.

Although… I’m not sure if me dragging him up a 4000 metre high mountain in a winter snowstorm, with a hangover, was his idea of quality time with a mate.

I know that the refreshed Stephen we see before us today is partly the result of this “career move” but above all it is thanks to the amazing effect that life with Mags has had on him. Mags is the reason he wanted to change things in the first place – so that he could spend as much time as possible with her – and I don’t think anyone can deny the glow that’s been kindled inside of him since he met and fell in love with her…. Regardless of how obvious this is, I think this is all getting a bit too soppy, so back to taking the mickey…

I’m sorry to bang on about it but, regardless of his “career move” from the “media” to lying in bed in Kew Gardens,

Steve’s ability to be late is off the map, isn’t it?

That’s if he even turns up at all…. Mags, it wasn’t you I was worried about today. If Stephen says he’s gonna be there at 1, then sometimes he’ll turn up at 8 but sometimes he won’t turn up till 8 the following Tuesday…….With a lot of “I’m 5 minutes away” or “I’m just around the corner”s along the way. But, the thing is, when he arrives he’ll be so positive and enthusiastic and he’ll make everyone feel so good about themselves (not intentionally, but just by being his great self) that no-one has the heart to say “but Steeeeeve! You’re a week late!” I could recount numerous examples of this but the most appropriate is definitely the ultra important appointment Steve had back in April, to meet the registrar for this very wedding. It was only when he decided to actually use his diary OR on a rare occasion that he actually checked his diarythat he realized he had missed the appointment… by THREE days. I didn’t even know he had a diary in the 1st place! Luckily he managed to re-schedule it… for a few days before the wedding. Talk about cutting it fine.

Tardiness aside, I’d really like to draw your attention to some of the finer attributes and capabilities of our good friend Stephen.

The limitless enthusiasm that he brings to anything he, or any of his mates, gets involved in is just outstanding. Mike McDonnell was kind enough to share some stories with me from what sounds like a very memorable childhood/coming of age era in the Davis/McDonnell hood. And I’m not even talking about his enthusiasm for food – when apparently at meal times he would turn up at the McDonnell house completely unannounced, graze from their dinner table and then, once satisfied, return home to tuck into his own dinner. Mags has obviously ticked a massive box, or hamper, as we all know, with much jealousy, that her culinary skills are simply outstanding.

But it’s not just food. Stephen is enthusiastic about everything. One story that I felt encapsulated this came from Mike…

Sophie McDonnell (who had the good fortune to grow up next door to Steve) recalls a time back in 1998. She asked Steve (who is largely a self-taught guitar player) if he could make her a short backing tape to take along to an audition to be in a girl group in London.  Steve took on the project with typical gusto – he set up his own digital multi-microphone “recording studio”, the very latest professional technology at the time, (miked up some mikes if you were there for that gag on the stag do) and spent night after night recording, re-recording, mixing, and using every known instrument as well as his best mate Damien to produce a musical masterpiece. When Sophie subsequently handed the track to the engineer at the audition, he was blown away by her professionalism, and of course, she got the gig.

My own experiences of Steve’s enthusiasm for music have been slightly different however – on one occasion Stephen travelled all the way to Australia, came and stayed at my house on the beautiful Bondi beach and spent the entire week in my front room trying to complete the ridiculously difficult levels of guitar hero 4 on the PlayStation 3. You don’t get much more enthusiastic than that do you?

I cottoned on to Steve’s general enthusiasm and positivity the first moment I met him. And in my typical style, I took full advantage. We met 6 years ago now (I know it seems like longer mate) at the French Open where I was doing a similar job to Steve – I was looking after the American broadcasters on a technical level and Steve was looking after the rest of the world. Obviously, and I apologise to any Americans in the room, my job, due to the English to English language barrier (and I thought Welsh was hard), was undoubtedly a lot harder than Steve’s. At the time I had unwittingly signed myself up to a massive pain in the bum by saying to one of the major broadcast equipment manufacturers, based just up the road in Belgium, that I would be happy to show some of their people around the American broadcast centre. What a can of worms I had opened. Day after day, they sent reams of sales men, software developers, marketing gurus, technical boffins, receptionists, cleaning staff and security men to see me. I quickly concluded that I was happy to take each of them on a small tour, as long as it didn’t cut too much into the time I could spend updating my status on Facebook. Before long on each tour, my thoughts came back to “How can I politely move this person on without seeming rude?” And in a light bulb moment I realized, “I know, that bloke next door – Stephen Davis. He seems enthusiastic and would probably love to chat to a representative of the manufacturer”. So one by one, I filed them through to the next room and handed them over to Steve, feeling like I’d just pulled the pin on a grenade and thrown it into the room. Of course I ran away as fast as I could, back to my world of drinking tea with the Americans. I was bang on with that ingenious idea – problem solved. But as time went on a small complication developed… Every time I took someone new to Steve, the person (and sometimes people) I’d taken there before, at times more than five hours earlier was still there, highly engrossed in conversation with Steve! There was one Russian bloke who I was convinced couldn’t speak a word of English but after 4 hours chatting with Mr Davis, he came out the door practically fluent!

Unfortunately, as much as he tries, his overflowing enthusiasm for nearly everything in and around his own life does not stretch as far as sustaining a relationship with any form of physical activity. He may well have come bounding up to me at the French Open in 2010, announcing with great gusto that Stephen Davis was going to run the New York marathon that year… He may well have convinced Darrell and I to join him. He may well have appeared as if by magic in New York and made me feel great about completing my training program… But Steve, having been out of contact via any means – constant, unrelenting phone calls, texts, emails, carrier pigeons or messages in bottles, had not done ANY training whatsoever and revealed he was simply there to support us both after having got us into the mess in the first place. Something I’m sure you’d agree, whilst slightly bizarre, is also the sign of a truly good bloke.

Just to labour the physical training point a little more, and to ensure I cover Steve’s long-standing love affair with all manner of technical gadgets (most of them seemingly pointless to everyone else. But for Steve there is always a reason to buy the latest box of DD5X3R20, adaptor cables). Only a month ago Steve phoned me up, bubbling with excitement after having run 9 miles. A decent achievement in itself, I’m sure you’ll all agree. But a feat that has yet to be repeated. Or for that matter, anything that represents something close to going close to the front door with running kit on. Anyway, when he told me about this run my instant response was, as I wanted to appeal to his technical side to encourage him to run more in future, “Nice one! Did you have an app running on your phone to track your progress?” Now Steve’s response was that he had had not only one app, like any normal person would maaaaybe have on their first run, but five so that he could compare them all! Not only that but he was very keen to tell me that he very highly rated the one with zombies which pretended to chase him down the street to make him run faster!!!!…. At 45 years old!!!!!

When writing the list of my friend’s attributes that I went through earlier, I did struggle to find a word that describes the quality of being so attentive to others to the point that, in Steve’s case at least, he comes across as being even more passionate about other people’s lives than he does about his own! I think we’d all agree that Steve has this incredible ability to make you feel great about yourself and life in general, simply by chatting to you. I don’t know how he does it! Maybe he employs the same Jedi mind tricks he used on the Judge whilst defending HIMSELF against a speeding charge of well over 100mph, in the fog?! On that occasion he must have made the Judge feel so good about himself that, despite being at least 50 mph over the speed limit and well in the “banning zone” in the first place, the judge let him get off scot free! Actually, thinking about driving offences, I’m not sure his Jedi mind skills worked so well on his Mum when he rolled and wrote off her Ford Escort Cabriolet a week or so after passing his driving test. Then, not one to do things by halves, he did a similar thing with its replacement a while later. On yet another occasion he also wrote off his Scimitar as well as three other cars, whilst parking! He managed to reverse into the car behind and then do an Austin powers comedy leap forward “maneuver” into the car directly in front!!! Mags, are you certain you want to go on a driving holiday with Steve for your honeymoon?! In fact, not only that – you’ve left him in charge of the van haven’t you?! Oh my days!!!

Moving away from this dodgy subject matter…. I’m sure every one of us has experienced Steve’s kindness and generosity, which seriously know no bounds. And it’s not just those of us here today. I’ve been told about the amazing work he has done in Lourdes, looking after children with disabilities, the sick and the elderly…It was however, during one such trip that he also made two insurance claims to two separate companies for the same broken guitar. This enabled him to not only get the guitar fixed but also to add an extra pick-up & still have some money left over to spend on more gear! Not so selfless after all…No, seriously, his ability to support me, pick me up at times, all whilst having such a laugh, is unique. I cannot thank him enough.

One final story that encompasses Steve’s enthusiasm, engaging personality, ingenuity, jedi mind skills and passion to make the most of a bad situation, whist also being a good example of one of the many bizarre situations that our friend seems to constantly find himself in, is as follows…. A few years ago Steve went to visit Euan who was spending a season at a ski resort in the Alps. Steve checked into his own hotel, unpacked in his own room, slept there for at least one night and then went skiing, as you do. The inevitable après ski followed and turned into après après ski and then après après après ski as we would all expect from Stephen. Finally he decided to call it a night, but upon trying to get into his hotel found it absolutely impossible (in his current state) to open the front door. So, instead of making a nuisance by waking someone or trying to get in touch with and maybe troubling Euan, Steve decided in true Davis style to check into a 2nd hotel, the poshest hotel he could find as at that point, he deserved it! The four seasons or whatever it was he checked into was unfortunately in full swing with an extremely posh wedding reception, but luckily for Steve they did have one room left. Not being one to miss a laugh, Steve then obviously took full advantage of this new situation and invited himself into the wedding reception…. In full ski gear!!! BOOTS, SALLOPETTES, JACKET, BEANIE HAT, THE LOT… Steve was obviously the life and soul of this new party, swanning around chatting, laughing and drinking into the wee hours. The perfect example of this being witnessed by Euan who, when coming to collect Steve in the morning recalls the Mother of the bride running up to them in the hotel reception screaming “Steve”! and hugging him with great delight. I have of course set the karma straight on this one by inviting some locals to turn up in full ski gear later on this evening.

So, as I mentioned before the inevitable reminiscing took hold….MY BEST FRIEND…has just got married to a woman who is not only equally as brilliant but the person that he cares about an immeasurable amount. I know this because he’s not only told on any number of occasions, most notably the night in my flat when we put the world to rights over 4 bottles of wine and 2 bottles of port. But, for anyone who has been around Steve since he met Mags, it is clear to see the value and strength of their relationship.

So, hopefully I’ve managed to establish what we all know already – that Steve is one of life’s finest and it goes without saying that his wife is a perfect match. So, to my best friend Steve, enthusiastic Steve, positive Steve, tight Steve (as he became known on Jimmy’s stag do…. The joke there being that it couldn’t have been further from the truth) and his wife Magwen I would like to raise a toast which of course should be in Welsh.

I would therefore like to get Gareth to help me. The English translation of what we are all about to say is:

“Magwen & Steve – We wish you the all the very best in your lives together…. Cheers.”

But we are all going to toast them together in Welsh…. Which is:

“CHEERS IN WELSH!” (sorry guys, can you help me out by filling in the blank!! LOVE YOU x

 

 

 

 

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